The Cleveland Cavaliers, who finished four games better than the Celtics last season, traded for a former MVP and one of the top five big men of all time. All the Orlando Magic did after bouncing the Celts from the playoffs was acquire an eight-time NBA All-Star and guy who has never averaged fewer than 20 points per game in a full season.
And your Boston Celtics? They drafted a kid out of Tennessee-Martin who is older than LeBron James and Kendrick Perkins, two grizzled veterans who are heading into their SEVENTH YEAR IN THE NBA. Many people would like to see players stay in school, but Lester Hudson , who will turn 25 in August, has taken it to a new extreme. The Celts' second-round draft choice spent more time in college than John Blutarsky.
Not that the Celtics could have done any better with the 58th pick in the draft. Indeed, the balance of power in the Eastern Conference is shifting beneath Danny Ainge's feet, and there is very little he can do about it. The Celtics sent their first-round pick to Minnesota as part of the Kevin Garnett deal. They are way over the salary cap so they cannot make an offer to any of the top free agents. And they are not even sure if they can hold on to the role players who helped them to 62 wins last season.
By tomorrow Eddie House may decline to pick up the player option in his contract and be gone. Big Baby Davis, meanwhile, will be free to field offers from other clubs, and if he strikes gold, there is no guarantee the Celtics will match. And we won't speculate on poor Leon Powe, a restricted free agent who will be attempting to come back from a torn ACL.
So it is silly to think the Celtics as currently constituted still are favorites or even co-favorites in the East. That train has left the station, and many sentimental Celts fans are content to sit there like saps and wave goodbye. Oh, we'll just keep the boys together one more season and hope for the best. It is a loser's mentality that has failed this franchise in the past.
Ordinarily, I would say it is difficult to out-do Bob Ryan's the Sky-is-Falling column from August 2, 2007, but Callahan clears the hurdle and then some.